Can a Pimple on the Breast Signal Cancer?

by PJ Hamel Patient Expert

“I have a small red spot that seems to be a pimple on my left breast. The doctor says it's only on the surface, and doesn't resemble inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). However I'm still worried about it because I've had it for over a week. If it was a pimple, shouldn't it have disappeared by now" — Colleen

Thanks to increased public awareness around breast cancer, women today are alert to any and all breast changes, from barely noticeable to totally obvious.

A pimple on the breast — a small, raised red spot — is almost certainly not a sign of breast cancer. Still, perhaps you’re worried. How do you know if you should see your doctor?

Typically, breast cancer begins with a lump inside the breast, not a red spot on the surface. One exception to this is IBC, a rare form of the disease that can start with redness, swelling, or other noticeable breast changes. Inflammatory breast cancer is known for its rapid onset, with a small breast change — itching, a patch of red skin — quickly developing into more serious symptoms. “I would say that a patch of red small enough to be mistaken for a pimple would be a highly unusual beginning to IBC, and it would be quickly followed by spreading redness, swelling, etc.,” notes Phyllis Johnson, HealthCentral’s resident IBC expert.

So, is that pimple or red mark you see on your breast a symptom of breast cancer? Highly unlikely. Keep your eye on it, and see the doctor if it worsens. Beyond that, try to stop worrying; chances are, it will disappear soon.


Breast cancer survivor and award-winning author PJ Hamel, a long-time contributor to the HealthCentral community, counsels women with breast cancer through the volunteer program at her local hospital. She founded and manages a large and active online survivor support network.

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PJ Hamel
Meet Our Writer
PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel is senior digital content editor and food writer at King Arthur Flour, and a James Beard award-winning author. A 16-year breast cancer survivor, her passion is helping women through this devastating disease. She manages a large and active online survivor support network based at her local hospital and shares her wisdom and experience with the greater community via HealthCentral.com.